Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It's the Bomb

As many might have heard, the Danish cartoon depicting *the Prophet* Muhammad with a bomb in his turban has caused for reverberations throughout the Muslim world. Largely, many Muslims deem this a racist, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment, nothing short of a clash between civilizations. According to an English reporter I heard speak on NPR just a few moments ago (as well as other sources and articles), the world's Muslim population is feeling increasingly alienated and stereotyped, even 4 years after 9/11 when things had truly gotten quite bad for them regarding the public sphere. The United State's actions in Iraq, aid to Israel, and the events occuring in Guantanamo Bay, according to the reporter, don't help the situation at all.

The reporter, either expressing his own views or views of the world's Muslim community, compared the cartoon to the "upside-down-cross-in-urine" incident, when a few years ago, in an art show, amongst other items, a piece was presented showing an upside-down cross dipped in urine. The intent of such a piece was pointless, other than to insult Christianity in the most vile, digusting, and tasteless way, and I truly wonder about the sanity of the individual that produced it.

However, as it disgusting as it was, it truly was pointless, and I am shocked that the reporter chose to categorically connect that to the Danish cartoon of Muhammad with the bomb in his turban. First of all, a cross in piss is in no way a political or social comment of any type, and if anything, it's just a (stupid and immature) opinion, almost a sick prank. The cartoon of Muhammad, on the other hand, can be categorized as a political and social comment on Islam's apparent association with the tendency for terrorism -- i.e., there is absolutely no logical connection between the cross in urine and the bomb in the turban; one says something about the world, and the other says something about the individual's unhealty mental state.

The reporter went on to say that the world's Muslim community felt as if they were being collectively punished for the actions of what "experts" have deemed an extremist minority within that community. However, when the barrage of Palestinian terror attacks were occuring on Israeli soil, killing innocent civilians, and also worthy of mention are the slaughter by Jordanian forces of Palestinians in the 70's, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and the infighting that we see in almost every Muslim and Arab country, the world Muslim community was silent. There is an old saying that "silence is agreement," and although much of the time there are many reasons for silence other than agreement (such as fear), one can never be quite sure as to the reason for the silence, because agreement is difficult to measure.

The reporter also emphasized that Timothy McVeigh's bombing of Oklohama City's
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building can in no way be related to the desire of the world's European ancestry Catholics, and therefore, the 9/11 terrorists cannot be held as representatives of world Islam. This is true, but when it comes the sociological composition of both the Protestant and Catholic society, at least in America, there is a clear distinction between Catholic and Protestant maniacs who are ready to kill for their beliefs and Catholic and Protestant maniacs that are willing to go to Church for their beliefs; America is one such country where this distinction is possible. Therefore, it is needless to say that McVeigh is not representative of all white American Christians, because the lines have already been drawn and people have already spoken out (long ago). In the Muslim and Arab countries, this development has yet to occur. That is the difference.

Nevertheless, this does not retract from the fact that Muslims were collectively silent about such disasters, and now their plaint is that they are being collectively pointed out as being guilty. If the world's Muslim community is perpetually silent about Muslim-related terrorism, and rather than courageously and simply stating that it's wrong, tries to find a way to contrast it with their notions of "real Islam," then we can deem them guilty of at least some degree of cooperation, be it direct or indirect.
That's the real problem here.

But it doesn't end here; many Muslim communities all over the world are getting up in arms about this ordeal and and virtually all are demanding apologies for this insult to their Prophet Muhammad, yet it is in these very same countries' newspapers that nearly daily cartoons depicting Jews as demonic, venomous, greedy, murderous creatures are found. It looks like we have a case of selective sensitivity here; a picture depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban sends Muslim communities flying off the handle, protesting, shouting, destroying property, which ended up with five people dead, but scores and scores of pictures depicting Jews as blood-thirsy vermin warrant no reaction whatsoever. It makes you wonder if Muslims really care about Jews as they say they do, oh wait, they don't say that. I spoke with a member of the Muslim Student Association the other day on campus, and near the end of our talk, he told me that their purpose was to ensure rights for all religious groups; not just Muslims, but Christians and Jews. However, you are not really calling for the rights of Jews (and Christians) when Muslim papers portray them as demons and the Muslim world doesn't condemn it.

True, it was a minority that reacted as harshly as they did, and true, it was a minority that creates the types of cartoons about Jews that I am referring to, but that's my point exactly, the majority has nothing to do with this. In fact, their lack of involvement in this is crystal clear; they, the majority, is silent when these cartoons are printed about Jews, but they violently and immaturely demand apologies for themselves. "Do unto others," as the saying goes (coming out of Jesus' mouth and found originally as one of the Torah's commandments.) Muslim do do unto others, they do unto others as they please. What we have is a loud and violent extremist minority and a silent and passive moderate majority.

The basic perception in the journalistic world is that "the two civilizations," the Muslim and the Western civilizations, need to work together to promote understanding, but they don't and shouldn't, for that's just another to way to exempt Muslim communities from taking responsibility for their own actions and problems; the only understanding that needs to occur is for the Muslim world to understand that it needs to speak about, and loudly, against its extremist elements. Something needs to be done, by Muslims and Muslims first and foremost, about the social and political decay occuring within Islam due to extremist elements that are left unchecked by the majority. It's enough of Muslims trying to smooth the violent groups over by saying that "they aren't practicing the real Islam, and we are." Well, if you want to say that the real Islam is silence in the face of violence, then go ahead, that also doesn't make you look too good. So far, nobody has defined Islam in positive terms, but only negative terms; "Islam is not____, Islam is not _____," it's never "Islam is ____," except for "Islam is a religion of peace," and if it is, then that aspect of Islam is being manifested relatively nowhere.


DEMAM_Waklu said...

i guess me as a muslim and you as a Jew would disagree on the depiction of God image because we share the same believe that God has no physical image n not worthy to be potrayed as human whatsoever...
But other thing than God are not included in this matter in Judaism but not for Islam...The physical imagination or depiction of God or His Prophets are disallowed by our religion because it will lead to heresy and blesphemy as happened in the world today...

The only problem is ignorance and lack of sensitivity among journalist in this matter...it doesnt deal with political but rather religious sensitivity because we cannot tolerate blesphemous acts especially which is related to the most important figure in Islam...

jjew said...

And that's fine. If you see, Jews do not portray the prophets either, at least religious Jews do not, and even Jews that are not very religious don't either. There are many paintings of them, but usually not by Jews. I have no clue what Abraham looked like nor do I want to; his message is the most imporant thing about him (although I'm sure he was a handsome man, hahaha!).

Yes, the first commandment is not to depict G-d in any form. I wonder if the Talmud says that the prophets should not be depicted. I'll find out this week.


I have heard that the Ottoman Muslims depicted Muhammad sometimes.

jjew said...

I forgot what this blog was about until I re-read it. Even though it is incredibly insulting to Islam for Muhammad (or other prophets) to be portrayed, Muslims could have TRIED to see the veneer of the cartoon, that the Danish cartoonist probably did not know that it would be offensive to draw Muhammad, and that he was making a political statement and not trying to insult the religion. Isn't it strange that Muslims got angrier over his depiction than the message that Islam has a tendency for terrorism?